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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: North America: July 30th 2009


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:: Fortune Minerals to Locate NICO Hydrometallurgical Process Facility in Southern Canada

Fortune Minerals Limited is pleased to announce its decision to locate the hydrometallurgical part of the process plant to treat concentrates produced from its NICO Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper development in the Northwest Territories (NWT) to a site in southern Canada. This change in the NICO project will have a material positive impact on both capital and operating costs for the development. It will also help mitigate future exposure to increasing energy costs, accelerate the construction schedule, reduce environmental impacts, and help speed the permitting process already in progress.

The NICO mine is located 160km northwest of the City of Yellowknife, 22km west of the Snare hydro complex and 50 km northeast of the community of Whati, NWT. NICO is a proposed vertically integrated project to mine and process ores to high value metal products, including gold doré, cobalt and bismuth cathodes (metal) and a minor amount of copper and nickel by-products using proven hydrometallurgical process methods that have been confirmed in two pilot plant tests and are used at existing refineries.

The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, that is conducting the environmental assessment for the NICO development, and representatives of the federal, NWT and Tlicho (aboriginal) governments have been notified of Fortune Minerals' decision. The mine, mill and flotation concentrator will be constructed in the NWT as originally planned. Conversely, the downstream hydrometallurgical part of the process plant, comprised of pressure and acid leaching followed by electro-winning to high value metal products, and the gold leach circuit, will now be constructed at a site in southern Canada. Numerous locations have been investigated to construct this "Southern Hydrometallurgical Facility" (SHMF) over the past 6 months. Fortune Minerals has now shortlisted four sites in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and plans to acquire one of these sites shortly.

Approximately 80,000 tonnes of metal concentrates produced at NICO each year will be transported from the property by truck (5+ trucks per day) to the rail head at Hay River, NWT for delivery to the SHMF by rail.

NICO will have average annual production of approximately 4 million pounds, each of cobalt and bismuth, as well as 81,000 ounces of gold in each of the first two years of the mine life, followed by 27,000 ounces of annual gold production in subsequent years. The project will also produce a minor amount of copper and nickel by-products. NICO will be a significant global producer of cobalt to service increasing demand in high performance rechargeable batteries used in portable electronic devices and electric-and hybrid-electric cars. Cobalt is also used in superalloys, magnets, high strength steels, catalysts, pigments and food additives (Vitamin B12). NICO is expected to be the largest independent producer of bismuth in the world to service growth in the demand for traditional products (medicines, flame retardants, fusible alloys, castings, cosmetics, lubricants and chemicals), plus a variety of new products that have been developed because bismuth is an environmentally safe replacement for lead due to lead-toxicity issues. The gold contained in the NICO deposit is an attractive counter cyclical hedge, which is primarily recovered during early years of the mine life.




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